2016 - Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 29640 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep29640

The role of dimensionality in neuronal network dynamics

Ulloa Severino FP, Ban J, Song Q, Tang M, Bianconi G, Cheng G, Torre V.


Recent results from network theory show that complexity affects several dynamical properties of networks that favor synchronization. Here we show that synchronization in 2D and 3D neuronal networks is significantly different. Using dissociated hippocampal neurons we compared properties of cultures grown on a flat 2D substrates with those formed on 3D graphene foam scaffolds. Both 2D and 3D cultures had comparable glia to neuron ratio and the percentage of GABAergic inhibitory neurons. 3D cultures because of their dimension have many connections among distant neurons leading to small-world networks and their characteristic dynamics. After one week, calcium imaging revealed moderately synchronous activity in 2D networks, but the degree of synchrony of 3D networks was higher and had two regimes: a highly synchronized (HS) and a moderately synchronized (MS) regime. The HS regime was never observed in 2D networks. During the MS regime, neuronal assemblies in synchrony changed with time as observed in mammalian brains. After two weeks, the degree of synchrony in 3D networks decreased, as observed in vivo. These results show that dimensionality determines properties of neuronal networks and that several features of brain dynamics are a consequence of its 3D topology.


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